MOSLEY dominated when he backed up Cano. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Ever noticed that the best fights are seldom the PPV main events? Last weekend saw three compelling contests, each tense and dramatic in its own way.
First, let’s take a look at Sugar Shane Mosley, who gave almost a vintage performance in outpointing Pablo Cesar Cano on his opponent’s home ground in Cancun, Mexico, on Saturday night (Fox Deportes).
You’ll sometimes hear older people say “Age is just a number” but fighters such as Mosley, Bernard Hopkins of course and Guillermo Jones (more on Jones later) make you start believing it.
MAYWEATHER, GUERRERO: Could an upset be looming? / Photo: Tom Casino, for Showtime
Mayweather -650; Guerrero +450
Over 10.5 -285; under 10.5 +185
Floyd Mayweather Jr. shook the boxing world in February by announcing he was leaving the HBO fold to sign a six-fight deal with HBO’s rival subscription network, Showtime. The first of these PPV attractions takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas tonight, when Mayweather defends his WBC welterweight title against the interim champion, Robert Guerrero.
Considered the best fighter in the world at any weight, Mayweather is widely expected to defeat Guerrero decisively to start off the new Showtime contact in compelling fashion. There’s something about Guerrero, though, that makes me think he has a real chance of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in years.
MARTINEZ, MURRAY: Homecoming for 'Maravilla'. / Photo Will Hart, HBO
Martinez -650; Murray +400
Over 9.5 -135; under 9.5 +115
Challenging for a championship away from home is never likely to be easy. Martin Murray discovered this when he went to Germany and came away with a draw against Felix Sturm in a fight that, at home in the U.K., he might well have won. Murray faces an even tougher assignment tonight, though, when the 30–year-old from St. Helens in northwest England ducks between the ropes in Buenos Aires to take on one of the elite fighters of the age, Argentina’s Sergio “Maravilla’ Martinez, for the WBC middleweight title, with TV coverage on HBO.
This, quite simply, is about as daunting a task as it gets for British boxer on foreign soil, with a 38,000 crowd at a soccer stadium roaring its support for Martinez.
ALVAREZ, TROUT: Let's hope there's no controversy. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Alvarez -180; Trout +140
Over 10.5 -190; under 10.5 +155
After having proved the oddsmakers wrong by defeating Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, Austin Trout goes for his second consecutive upset victory when he meets Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a clash of unbeaten junior middleweight champions at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday (TV coverage on Showtime).
Trout was boxing on his opponent’s home ground when he outscored Cotto, who had never lost at the Garden and had New York’s sizeable Puerto Rican boxing community cheering for him. Now Trout is meeting a hugely popular Mexican boxer who will have a big Mexican and Mexican-American crowd on his side.
BELLEW (right) promises to bring the pain.
Bellew -165; Chilemba +130
Over 9.5 -170; under 9.5 +150
WealthTV features boxing for the second week in a row on Saturday with a double-header from Liverpool, and although Tony Bellew’s fight with Isaac Chilemba for the WBC Silver light-heavyweight title is the main event, the chief supporting bout between Anthony Crolla and Derry Mathews for the Commonwealth lightweight title could steal the show.
“Bomber” Bellew, fighting at home in Liverpool, is the favourite against Chilemba. Bellew’s only loss was on a majority decision against unbeaten British rival Nathan Cleverly, and I consider this Bellew’s best performance even though he lost.
BRONER, REES: Challenger looks outclassed. / Rich Kane, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Broner -4000, Rees +1500
Over 6.5 +155; under 6.5 -195
Every so often a fighter comes along who is anointed by the media as boxing’s latest big thing. Adrien Broner is the man of the moment in this regard. Broner, who defends his WBC lightweight title against Welshman Gavin Rees in Atlantic City tonight, seems to have it all. He is undefeated, powerful, fast and flashy. Broner is also an entertainer. He has his father go through the motions of brushing his hair after a fight; he got down on one knee to make a mock marriage proposal to his girlfriend on HBO.
There seems little doubt, though, that Broner puts in the work in the gym. He will tell interviewers that it’s because he trains so hard that his fights look easy.
MARK THOMPSON: He's the favourite, which might be a bad omen for him.
PRIZEFIGHTER: The welterweights III
The ever-popular Prizefighter event is back on Saturday, featuring the welterweight division for the third time. Sky Sports will be televising as usual in the U.K., while Wealth TV is bringing the event to U.S. viewers. As always the fights will be three-rounders, if a fighter gets cut from a head clash and can’t continue then his opponent will get the win (the “no decision/technical draw ruling has been suspended where Prizefighter events are concerned), if the judges score a fight a draw, the referee gives his casting vote to find a winner — and promoter Eddie Hearn has spiced things up by offering a £2,000 bonus to any fighter who wins a bout by KO or TKO. Mark Thompson is the most experienced boxer in the field and he is the favourite, but anything can happen with this three rounds format.
KAZUTO IOKA: One of the stars featured on Japan's massive day of boxing. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Japanese boxing fans have a fabulous day ahead of them on Dec. 31 with big fights taking place on mega promotions in Tokyo and Osaka. I previewed the Takashi Uchiyama vs Bryan Vasquez fight for subscribers. (This is the only one of the Japanese fights that at time of writing has a wagering line available.)
Here are my thoughts on the other fights that take place in Japan on Monday, and the odds I would consider appropriate.
Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was one of the gamest crowd-pleasers in recent boxing history and his life and career has been done justice by Mark Kriegel’s excellent biography The Good Son: The Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.
The book is as much about Mancini’s relationship with his father, the former lightweight contender Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, and their hometown of Youngstown, OH, as it is about the fighter, which I believe lifts it to a level above the standard boxing biography.
ADAMEK has a 20-pound weight advantage. / Photo: Rich Graessle
Adamek -300; Cunningham +240
Over 9.5 -200; under 9.5 +160
If the rematch between Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham is as good as the original, Saturday’s return of boxing to the NBC network will be a rousing success.
In the first fight, in the cruiserweight division four years ago, Adamek scored three knockdowns to take a hard-earned win by split decision. Now they meet as heavyweights in a scheduled 12-rounder. Last time Cunningham was favourite, this time Adamek is favoured at about -350.
KHAN: Defeat tonight would be a disaster. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime.
Khan -950; Molina +450
Over 8.5 +120; under 8.5 -140
Meeting a heavy puncher is the last thing that Amir Khan needs after his three-knockdown, fourth-round defeat against Danny Garcia in July, hence the choice of Carlos Molina as an opponent for Khan’s ring return in Los Angeles tonight on Showtime.
Molina (not to be confused with the junior middleweight contender of the same name) is unbeaten but considered to be unthreatening. He has won 17 of his 18 bouts with one draw — but Molina has stopped only one of his last eight opponents.
COTTO, TROUT: Great Puerto Rican faces unbeaten champion. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Cotto -195; Trout +145
Over 10.5 -180; under 10.5 +140
Sometimes a boxer who isn’t too well known outside of the hard-core boxing community springs a surprise when he gets his big opportunity. I think that Austin Trout could be in this position when he defends his WBA light-middleweight title against Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, with TV coverage on Showtime.
Cotto is understandably the favourite. He is far more experienced than Trout — Cotto has scored more KO wins than Trout has had fights — and he will be boxing in front of an intensely pro-Cotto crowd at the Garden, where the very popular and even adored Puerto Rican boxer has never lost a fight.